The Urantia Book Fellowship

Timeline Index

Historic Timeline of Events in the Revelation Community

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1926 First paper read to the Forum (According to a letter from Robert Burton in 1973 written to Paul Snider, then President of Urantia Brotherhood.)

"Forum Pledge" formalized. The Forumites all signed a pledge stating, "We acknowledge our pledge of secrecy, renewing our promise not to discuss the Urantia Revelations or their subject matter with any one save active Forum members, and to take no notes of such matter as is read or discussed at the public sessions, or make copies or notes of what we personally read."2 The Forum was organized as a "mortal comprehension device" -- a means of determining the comprehension level of a representative group of mortals.

Meredith Sprunger relates that the papers always appeared in a predetermined place and they were hand written. They were requested to have these original papers typewritten and kept in a safe in Dr. Sadler's office. Whenever the original papers were copied, the originals always disappeared. The contact commissioners tried various tricks to determine how this was being done. On one occassion ten dollar bills were placed between the sheets. The original papers would disappear but the bills would remain in the locked safe. After the papers began coming, the contact commissioners were requested to read them to the Forum. They discovered that after certain papers were read and placed in the safe, they disappeared. When they inquired about this disappearance, very little explanation was given beyond the fact that it was the decision of the revelators to withdraw the paper. Other papers were altered after being read to the Forum. The assumption is that they were required to read these papers to the Forum so that the revelators could observe human reaction to the material presented. The original handwritten papers were typed by Emma Christensen who made two copies -- an original and a carbon. The originals were kept in a fireproof safe at Northern Trust and the carbons were put into file folders which forumites could check out and read (but could not remove from the office.) When a paper was checked back in by a Forumite reader, Christy, Wilfred or Edith Cook would count the pages to be sure they were all there. The Papers were always referenced by paper number as there were no page numbers until after typesetting had been done.

Dr. Sadler maintains he is still highly skeptical of the process.

Meredith Sprunger relates, "He told me that as they read the early Urantia Papers he observed that many of the group including his wife were beginning to be highly impressed by their content. So one Sunday he made a speech about the importance of objectivity and a critical approach to this material. The response he got when he finished was sort of a testimony meeting. The essence of the Forum's reaction was, 'We don't care who wrote it--it simply makes more sense than anything we have read along this line.' But Dr. Sadler observed that his professional reputation was at stake. He had declared there were no genuine mediumistic phenomena and he wasn't going to allow one baffling case to change his mind."3

1928 Bill Sadler recalled from Marines via his mother's connections in the American Red Cross. It was desired that he be home to participate in the reading of the first Urantia Papers.3

By one account, the Sadlers had purchased the building at 533 Diversey Parkway shortly before the stock market crash on Black Thursday. [Picture of the building at 533 Diversey Parkway]

"Mind at Mischief" published -- This book also contains a definition of friendship which Dr. Sadler purportedly got from the Midwayers.23  This was the best selling of all his 42 books. After publication he apparently had second thoughts about it and asked friends to help collect as many as they could. Some 800 were thus collected but when Dr. Sadler reneged on his promise to buy them back, most of them found their way back into circulation.23

1931 Someone inquires of the copyright office regarding quantity of changes necessary to secure second copyright. [See 1931 copyright office correspondence]
1932 November 28, 1932 -- Wilfred Kellogg submits request for information to copyright office regarding securing copyrights in foreign countries -- [See copyright information request letter]

[See 1933 letter from Clyde Bedell to Wilfred Kellogg] expressing concerns about autocratic trends in group management.

1934 Reception of first three parts of The Urantia Book--118 Papers--complete.2 However, the Forum kept going over these papers and asking questions so the Revelators could clarify their expressions to be more understandable to the mortal mind. The Forum went through all the papers at least three times. To estimate the time involved consider 118 papers completely gone through three times, one paper a week, 42 weeks a year (allowing for no meetings during the peak summer heat). Paper 119 came through in 1935 just before the entire Part IV was delivered complete--typewritten, justified, punctuated and capitalized.23

February 11 -- Part IV -- the "Jesus Papers" -- delivered2 Note: This is the anniversary of the arrival of Jesus' Thought Adjuster

According to Bud Kagan's reminescence of conversations with Bill Sadler, all of Part IV was discovered in a vacant office, typewritten, next to the typewriter on which they had been produced. There appears to have been some question about including the Part IV we have today. According to Bill Sadler the Urantia Midwayers enjoined the Revelatory Commission and appealed all the way up the chain of command to include this narrative of Michael's final bestowal. It took one year (of our time) and the Ancients of Days ruled that it was not inconsistent with the Urantia Revelation to include the triumphant bestowal of Michael of Nebadon. A Melchizedek editor was appointed to work with the midwayer commission. It is possible that the "Life & Teachings" were already composed by the Urantia midwayers and submitted as part of their brief. See last sentence of 77:9.9.23 Bud says that, according to Bill, the Midwayers engineered a credit for their effort by adding paragraph 77:9.9 to the book after the plates were already strapped in the press in preparation for printing.


Sometime during this period, Dr. Sadler came to believe that The Urantia Book was what it claimed to be. Dr. Sadler was in the habit of reading a paper each week to the gathered members of the Forum. It is reported that upon reading Paper 139, "The Twelve Apostles," to the Forum, he stopped, and with a tear in his eye stated, "I now must accept these Papers as what they say the are. Human behavior is my profession. No one could have written this without being present." It is reported that Dr. Lena was ecstatic and ran up to embrace Doc, the whole room being filled with joy and excitement.23

Dr. Sadler later told Meredith Sprunger, "I'm a psychiatrist and I think I know my business. But this paper was a real blow to my pride. If I had a half-dozen psychiatrists to help me and years to prepare it, I was convinced that I couldn't fabricate a paper with this ring of genuineness and insight. So I said to myself, 'I don't really know what it is but I do know that it's the highest quality of philosophic-religious material that I have ever read.'" From that time on, Meredith comments, Dr. Sadler became not only the professional director but the dedicated leader of the group.3


Sometime during this period, Dr Sadler and Bill Sadler attempted to write a Foreword to the book. In response, a typewritten Foreword was provided by the revelators along with the comment that, "A city can not be lit by a candle."23

Sometime during this period the members of the Forum began holding "Remembrance Suppers" based upon commentary contained in the Urantia Papers.

Beginning of the drafting of a plan for a formal organization to manage affairs related to The Urantia Book upon publication. Originally there were plans for a single organization but it soon became apparent that any organization designed for the management of the social repercussions of the revelation would need to be organized according to republican ideals. [See "Development of Urantia Foundation and Urantia Brotherhood" by Carolyn Kendall]   [See Bill Sadler's 1958 memo reviewing the history of the organizations.]

Dr. Lena Sadler begins collecting funds for typesetting27


April 3 -- "The Seventy" organized for intensive study classes (70 people volunteered); begins meeting on Wednesday evenings at 533 Diversey Parkway.2   The unseen personalities suggested that the training of teachers and leaders be undertaken. Thus Bill Sadler Jr. organized "The Seventy" which met every Wednesday evening--attendance was mandatory. They each had a three-ring notebook which they left at 533 in which notes and study aids were recorded.23

Meredith Sprunger reports that the seventy were trained by papers and directives from the revelators and their own leaders up to the time of the publication of the Urantia Book.

The seventy, along with many other members of the Forum, were the first members of Urantia Brotherhood and comprised the first General Council. These individuals were also instrumental in establishing the Brotherhood school and creating many of the readership's first study aids.

August 8 -- Death of Dr. Lena Sadler7

Editor's note: It is unfortunate that more information on the life of Dr. Lena Sadler is not available. She was apparently the first person to recognize the significance of the revelatory materials coming through the "sleeping subject" and kept the project going when Dr. William S. Sadler was ready to quit. Her life was marked by tragedy in the early loss of a baby daughter. She is said to have been inconsolable and bore the pain for years until she achieved some degree of consolation in the adoption of Emma Christensen. Later in her life she suffered from what was apparently breast cancer and as a result of a botched mastectomy had to have an arm amputated. Nevertheless, she maintained her enthusiasm and dedication to the project right up to the time when her cancer ended her mortal career. By the time she departed for the mansion worlds she had collected over $20,000 for the publication project. One source commented to me, "If anyone in this group [the contact commissioners] was a destiny reservist, it was Dr. Lena Sadler."
[See "Brief Notes on Dr. Lena Sadler"from the Chautauqua promotional materials]

[See Lena Sadler obituary from the August 23, 1939 issue of Christian Century]

First drafts of a Declaration of Trust and a Brotherhood Constitution prepared.25 The original plans submitted by the contact commissioners to their celestial associates for approval were returned with the comment, "Can't you do any better than that?"23


June 28 -- R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company submits contract for "Composition and Plates for Book -- Approximately Two Thousand pages" to Mr. W. C. Kellogg4

September 11 -- Wilfred Kellogg signs contract with R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company for typesetting The Urantia Book4


Harold Sherman meets Dr. Sadler early in 1942. He and his wife sign the secrecy pledge and are accepted as Forum members.

May 31 -- last formal meeting of the Forum2

Members of the Forum, led by Harold Sherman, question management of the process. Sherman becomes disgruntled with Dr. Sadler who refused to add material relating to psychic phenomena to The Urantia Book. (Some reader-historians have referred to this incident as "The Sherman Rebellion.") 3

[ See Forum petition presented to Dr. Sadler] regarding plans for Urantia organizations.
[See photos of Harold and Martha Sherman]
[Review materials related to this incident--the socalled "Sherman Rebellion"--and the subsequent publication of Sherman's book, "How to Know What to Believe"]

The Forum was formally disbanded as such once the contract for the plates was signed. Former Forum members begin reviewing galley proofs of The Urantia Book -- a process continued for nearly a decade. These individuals also continued to meet for study of the papers.

Mary Flannigan, employee of the Lakeside Press division of R. R. Donnelley, assigned full-time to work at 533 Diversey Parkway assisting in reading of galley proofs.23

Anecdotal sources maintain that the book was ready for publication before the start of World War II. Following the close of the war, publication was tentatively scheduled for 1949. It is reported that the Melchizedeks declared war on communism in 1946 and that in 1949 the Most High Observer seized control of the  Planetary Government to devote all celestial resources available on the planet to the task. Publication was held up until the planetary government was satisfied with the direction the fight against communism was taking. By the time of the Korean war the Melchizedeks thought things had turned around and were heading for an early resolution (having initially commented that it may take as long as 100 years to stop the momentum of communism.) They gave the go-ahead for publication in 1955 but with a caveat:

"The book belongs to the era immediately to follow the conclusion of the present ideological struggle. That will be the day when men will be willing to seek truth and righteousness. When the chaos of the present confusion has passed it will be more readily possible to formulate the cosmos of a new and improved era of human relationships. You are in association with a revelation of truth which is part of the natural evolution of religion on this world. ...Over-rapid growth would be suicidal. ...The book is being given to those who are ready for it long before the day of its world-wide mission. ...An early publication of the book has been provided so that it may be in hand for the training of leaders and teachers. Thousands of study groups must be brought into existence and the book must be translated into many tongues. Thus will the book be in readiness when the battle for man's liberty is finally won and the world is once more made safe for the religion of Jesus and the freedom of mankind."23,25

Bill Sadler is reported to have commented that they hired a copyright attorney named John Denier (name can be checked out) when they discovered the problems in obtaining registration due to the authorship. They decided to see if it would work to use ' Urantia Foundation' as author, and it did. The copyright office does not check on the validity of applications, and does not police the works that are registered. The Contact Commisioners apparently received administrative messages up to and including the "final" instructions of 1954 when the contact was broken and all the revelators (sans all resident personalities who were pledged to silence) went back to their native or assigned abodes. And the message was, "You are now on your own".

August -- Administrative message purportedly received related to copyright and trademark. [See this message along with Tom Kendall's commentary]

1943 Clyde Bedell drafts petition circulated by Harold Sherman that attempts to make the Forum more democratic. Dr. Sadler convinces the group to continue as they have in the past.3 Clyde is reported to have eventually changed his position to one of opposition to Sherman's efforts.3
1944 Dr. Sadler publishes "Prescription for Permanent Peace," a document containing ideas for a "mankind government." Some of the comments contained in this document were reportedly provided by the revelators.
1945 First meeting of the group in Los Angeles, California, which eventually became First Urantia Society of Los Angeles--this was a group of individuals who had participated in the Forum and knew about the upcoming publication of the book. Because no copies of the Urantia Papers were available outside 533 Diversey Parkway, this group studied comparative religions and other topics.
1947 Harold Sherman leaves the Forum3

March A Talk to "The Seventy" -- Erle Steinbeck

[See "Notes on Dissemination" by Bill Sadler]

[See "How to Tell People About The Urantia Book Without Telling Them About The Urantia Book" by Bill Sadler]


Editor's note: In 1949 a message was purportedly received in which a "Vicegerent Planetary Prince" (or, in some versions of the story, a "Resident Governor General") named "Norsan" announced that all resources were being refocused on the war against international communism. If this story is true, it is quite possibly a reference to the announcement of a "Most High Observer," alluded to in the text of The Urantia Book. [See quotes from The Urantia Book regarding this possibility]


January 11 -- Wilfred Kellogg signs over his rights in the plates for The Urantia Book to the new trustees of Urantia Foundation4

Editor's note: Wilfred Kellogg was the individual who kept the books for Sadler's medical practice. He therefore was assigned the task of negotiating with the typesetter for the composing and manufacture of the plates back in 1941. The fact that he signed the contract made him the legal owner of the finished product (the plates). He held this in trust until Urantia Foundation was established by means of recording their Declaration of Trust with Cook County in Illinois and then assigned the plates to the newly formed Urantia Foundation. He did this as an individual because the contact commission had no status under law prior to the formalization of Urantia Foundation.3

For information on how Urantia Foundation was formed, see "Development of Urantia Foundation and Urantia Brotherhood" by Carolyn Kendall. See also:

Dr. William S. Sadler -- "A History of The Urantia Movement"

Bill Sadler's memo of 1958 reviewing the roles and purposes of the Urantia organizations

January 11 -- Formation of Urantia Foundation at 333 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, the offices of Bill Sadler -- signing of Declaration of Trust. [See Declaration of Trust Creating Urantia Foundation]

In 1950 the contact commission consisted of:3

Dr. William S. Sadler
William S. Sadler, Jr.
Emma Christensen
Wilfred Kellogg
Anna Kellogg

The original trustees of Urantia Foundation were:3

William Hales, President
William S. Sadler, Jr., Vice President
Emma Christensen, Secretary
Edith Cook
Wilfred Kellogg

Bill Sadler moves out of 533 in dispute with his father, Dr. William S. Sadler, over the payment of the mortgage on the 533 property. According to a personal friend of Bill's, the Sadlers were not in the best of financial shape at this time and Dr. Sadler gave his interest in the property to Urantia Foundation, which was then to continue paying the mortagage while allowing the Sadlers to continue living in the building. Bill strongly objected to what he viewed as his father's use of the Foundation for personal gain. There were apparently other personal issues also involved in his decision to move out.23

[See "Some Tips on Personal Evangelism" by Bill Sadler]

October 25 -- First appeal for funds for printing The Urantia Book.5 Long-time Forum member and first President of Urantia Foundation, William Hales had earlier offered to underwrite the entire cost of typesetting, proofing and publication. Oral tradition says that he was turned down by the Midwayers who expressed a preference that it be done as a group effort.23,27

1950 -- Fund raising letter to print the first edition  


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